Big companies usually have a law firm on retainer. Really big companies have their own lawyers and the biggest have a fully staffed legal department. Most small businesses though, have very little budget for legal expenses, however, they also can't afford to be without a member of the bar to whom they can go for proper legal advice either.
Legal issues to deal with on your own
There are many legal matters involved with running a small business, which often needs to be addressed by the business owner. While a lawyer could help handle legal issues quickly and properly, those who are determined to save a few hundred dollars on lawyer fees can do a number of legal tasks for their company, with the proper research and planning, on their own. Some of these include:
• Writing a business plan
• Creating a legal partnership
• Forming a limited liability company
• Applying for building and operating permits and licenses
• Complying with zoning and other local government requirements
• Getting an employer ID number
• Paying shareholders
When you'll want a lawyer
It is practically impossible to predict what issues your company may face today, let alone tomorrow or years from now. A company can be sued for just about anything these days, from the lack of quality of its services or products to failure to comply with government health, safety or operating regulations. Companies can also be sued for copyright or trademark infringement or any other issues concerning intellectual property rights. A small business need not be in the wrong to be sued, but a company that is being sued needs a lawyer to come to its defense.
Find a lawyer before you need one
The worst time for a small business to find a lawyer is when one is badly needed. This is especially true when a business is being sued, facing an audit or is in danger of being shut down for failure to comply with any regulations. A company that is under the gun in this manner is going to lose a lot of time and money searching, choosing and obtaining a lawyer who is up to speed on its business and its issues.
It is far better to have found a lawyer before your company has to face big issues. You will want to have a lawyer available who is already knowledgeable of how your company operates and what it needs. Put simply, when a fire starts, it is not the time to go looking for a fire extinguisher. It is good to have someone on board who can put out a legal fire or prevent a legal spark from becoming a full-blown problem, or lawsuit.